Sunday, June 20, 2010




“It is with a mixture of joy and sadness that I write to inform you that I will be leaving the Pelicans this July. I have been accepted to a PhD program in Washington DC and will start classes this fall.

“The Pelicans have meant a great deal to me both on and off the pitch over the past three years. We all know what a privilege it is to be a part of this organization. Everyone knows about the Pelicans efforts in regard to referee development and exchange opportunities but what I'll carry with me is the quality of the people. From top to bottom everyone has been more supportive and friendly than I could have hoped for. I can't thank the society enough for all the opportunities that have been extended to me.

“I will also miss coaching my beloved Berkeley Rhinos. Having the chance to coach the team that got me started in rugby way back in 1991 was an absolute thrill. I love those boys and I'm sad that I won't be there to see them progress.

“Many thanks to the Pelican board, the evaluators, all my fellow refs and especially to Bruce Carter, Bjorn Stumer and David Williamson whose efforts and interest in my development were a huge benefit to me.

“Take care, see you at the banquet.

“-Roberto Santiago”


Want to work up a thirst and an appetite prior to the banquet? Scott’s is not a bad place to have a hankering for food and beverage.
Here are your options for June 26:

Palo Alto Sevens – only four refs listed so far; could use about four more

Dunsmuir Sevens – well, you might have trouble making it back to Walnut Creek from near Mt. Shasta, but they’ll have camping up there and plenty of good rugby company

We could use two ARs at Rocca Field:
Saturday, June 26, 1:00 PM: SF/Golden Gate – GHA RFC from Glasgow
Referee: Joe Androvich
Sunday, June 27, 3:00 PM: SF/Golden Gate – New Zealand Navy team
Referee: Preston Gordon

Let us know your pleasure.


U17 and U19 All-Star tournaments were played at SFGG June 5-6. There were teams from the four high school NorCal conferences, SoCal, Oregon and Hawaii

HAWAII More – Redwood Less Referee: Roberto Santiago
(I can't find my score sheet but Hawaii won and looked very fast and athletic doing it.)

Sky 22 – SOCAL 24 Ref: Santiago
A brutal, physical game. SoCal led at the half 10-12. The teams scored even in the seoncd half including a furious sequence with no time left that saw Sky make the final score look extra close.

Oregon girls U17 17/ Pelicans 5 Referee: Eric Rauscher
There were two girls’ teams both of which appeared to be made up of girls from all over, with mixed results. There were however enough to have two full U19 games and an U17 game. Oregon seemed to have more players and were ready to go at the start time. The Pelicans had to finish up a game and quickly put together a team for the next game. This meant the some of the Pelicans went straight from one game to the next. Oregon was also able to sub in 4/5 players twice in the game (two 22 min halfs). I was impressed with Oregon's ability to win at the breakdown by rucking cleanly over the ball at least three times. The game was played in good spirit, and was fun to ref.

Redwood boys 10/ Sac Valley 29 Ref: Rauscher
I was afraid that this game was going to be a blow-out having watched a little bit of both teams play earlier. To my surprise and delight, Redwood played a very decent game and made Sac Valley earn all of their points. The skill levels displayed by both sides were good. There was a little hand-bag stuff, so a quick talk to both captains put a lid on it and no more was seen from then on. Good, solid play made this another fun game. All in all it was a good day at TI.

BAY 25 – Sac Valley 0 Referee: Joe Leisek
Assistant Referees: JC Van Staden, Mark Godfrey
This was a U19 semi-final, featuring two very good teams, both well-coached, but Bay moved forward throughout the match through their size and speed. They were not seriously challenged. Bay had size and strength in the forward, and pace in the backline, and a talented flyhalf (whose name I believe was Augie) with a big boot who directed things well and kept Sac Valley under pressure throughout. Five unconverted tries for Bay.

FINAL: BAY 33 – Hawaii 0 Referee: Joe Leisek
Assistant Referees: JC Van Staden, Preston Gordon/Mike King
The U19 final was played on Rocca Field in front of a large crowd, at a serious pace. These were teams with power and speed. Right at kickoff, the pace was fast and furious, much higher than the semi-final I had refereed about an hour and a half before. Bay featured a center who took over this game and used his long legs and physical strength to run through tackles and then outrun everyone. He scored a couple of breakaway tries that did not start out that way. Very impressive. Five tries for Bay, with four of them converted. A dominating performance on the day by a team that looked for all the world like a very good college side. Congratulations to them and to coaches Blaine Warhurst and Tony Wells.

By Joe Androvich

I arrived in Mexico City on Friday, June 4 2010 and was gathered at the airport by Aida Arellano, the Mexican Rugby Federation’s President (I think). She was extremely friendly and a great tour guide. My main goal on Friday was to stay hydrated and rested, as Mexico City is at over 7200 feet of elevation with suffocating pollution. I was taken out to dinner across the street from my hotel by Antonio, one of my ARs for Saturday’s match. After watching Spanish TV, I went to bed.

The captain’s meeting was arranged for the next morning. Both captains spoke English, which was nice because I speak very little Spanish. As a matter of fact, my Spanish consists of knowing colors, numbers, and the words "stop" "hands" and "shut-up," which became handy during the match. If you are ever to referee in Mexico, please understand one thing: the traffic in Mexico is so bad that it completely eliminates any accuracy on predicting time. For example, when the captains or your ride tells you "I will be at your hotel at 7:00pm" that really means "I will be at your hotel sometime between 7:00pm and 8:000pm."

We arrived at the International University of Mexico City one hour before the match. We were fortunate that the weather was slightly overcast - but it was still 80+ degrees F. There were an estimated 500 people in attendance, but it seemed louder because of their songs, cheers and horn blowing. The first half of the match was sloppy, but the sloppiness was not due to lack of intensity. Both teams wanted to win and were passionate about the match. Both teams also appeared nervous, and we had 20 scrums. However, the second half was a different story. With 15 minutes left, the Wallabies from Mexico City were leading by 5 points, but the Rhinos from Guadalajara were attacking inside the 22. More handling errors, and the Wallabies scored on a break-away try with no time left to win the National Championship by 10 points.

They had a nice trophy presentation and after-party. I must say many thanks to all who hosted me, especially Aida. The trip was a great experience.

Alberta Exchange Report June 9-12
By Joe Leisek

On Wednesday, driving to SFO, I received an e-mail from Andrew Petti, an Alberta panel referee who was scheduled to pick me up at Calgary International Airport. He told me my plane was running late and asked me to update him. Upon check-in, I learned the flight was delayed by nearly two hours, which meant I would likely not make it to referee my first game of the exchange: a Wednesday night U16 boys contest. Just before take-off I learned that the game had been canceled due to rain. When I finally arrived and cleared customs, I met Andrew, who took me to dinner in a boisterous restaurant. All restaurants in Canada were probably boisterous that night, considering the fact that it was the final game of the Stanley Cup. We were met after dinner by David Robinson, another Alberta panel referee who was my host for the first two nights of the exchange. It was rainy and cold.

I stayed with David and his family on Wednesday and Thursday nights. David and his family – wife Lisa, twin daughters Danica and Caprice, and daughter Bailey – are the most gracious, generous hosts a referee could hope to have. Nowhere else does a referee find a Lindt chocolate on his or her pillow, nor have Eggs Benedict for breakfast on the morning of a tournament. Lisa Robinson makes this happen. David is an experienced referee and coach, gives most of his time to rugby, and is well-respected in the rugby community. His 16-year-old daughter Danica is a rugby player and referee.

On Thursday I met David for lunch at a downtown restaurant, where we were joined by erstwhile USA International Panel referee Graeme Bullen. Like David, Graeme works in the energy industry. David owns an energy services company and Graeme is a banker. Graeme had recently moved to Calgary from Texas, and for you followers of his refereeing career, he is starting to run again. His goal is to referee local games whenever his work travel schedule permits. He is a delightful guy, and the three of us had a really nice time at lunch. After lunch, I wandered the streets of Calgary while David attended an industry trade show.

The work part of my exchange began that night with a high school selects game (see The Rugby). We returned to the Robinson home for chili and conversation with Lisa and David. BC referee Drew Sagar arrived late at night; he was to join us in Lethbridge the next day.

On Friday morning we were up early and out the door for the two-hour drive to Lethbridge, for the Alberta Provincial High School Championships. After a long day at the venue, the referees had a great dinner at a local restaurant, paid for by the Rugby Alberta Match Officials Association and organized by Don Whidden. We drove back to Calgary, where David dropped me off with my next host: Jared Morrison, a Kiwi expat and Calgary referee. Jared and his wife Roxanne were also wonderful hosts, along with their very young sons Zack and Will. On Saturday morning, Roxanne saw us off with bagels and cream cheese, with tomato and Canadian back bacon. Again, what more could a visiting referee need?

Saturday was a rugby day, and it started with Jared and me watching much of the All Black-Ireland match. We then took a short morning drive to the Calgary Rugby Union Park, where Andrew presented an Assistant Referee clinic for new referees. David and Jared and I helped out (with David's daughter Danica one of the students). Andrew did a great job on teaching the course, as evidenced by the fact that two members of the class were quickly put to work in my Alberta Cup match that afternoon.

The CRU includes three pitches, with the main pitch bordered by a grandstand on each sideline, and a clubhouse with six changing rooms for players, plus one for referees. A clubhouse upstairs features a restaurant and bar, three flat screen televisions, and a deck that overlooks one of the in-goal areas. Referees do not want to make mistakes in that in-goal.

There were Alberta Cup matches, Women’s Premier matches, and D2 and D3 matches played that day. It was a rugby festival to me, and just another rugby Saturday to everyone else. The number of games played at the CRU wasn’t even all of the rugby played that day in Calgary! In talking to Andrew, David, and Jared, the number of matches that referees cover in Calgary is phenomenal, with high school rugby making up about two-thirds of the total. It is possible for a ref to do five weekday games and one or two club matches on the weekend.

On Saturday night, Jared and Roxanne hosted a barbeque with Andrew and his wife Sarah-Jane Petti, local coach and referee Dion Roach, and referee John Schelske. Zack was an enthusiastic host as well, pulling out each guest for individual play sessions around the back yard. It was a great evening with good friends and lots of laughter, and delicious food prepared by Jared and Roxanne.

On Sunday morning, Jared and Zack took me to the airport, where I shook Zack’s hand and boarded the plane back to SFO. This exchange was a highlight of my refereeing career. Thanks to all who hosted and looked after me while I was there.

The Rugby

Thursday, June 10
Calgary Senior High School Athletic Association Boys Rugby Selects Game
Henry Wise Wood High School, Calgary
NORTH 29 – South 12 Referee: Joe Leisek
Assistant Referees: Duncan McLean, Daniel Wahba
Just a couple of days after the Calgary finals, two boys all-star teams played before an appreciative audience of friends, family, schoolteachers and administrators, along with local and territorial rugby coaches who were there to observe and evaluate players. All braved cold, wet conditions. The game followed the girls’ selects, which was refereed by Andrew Petti. The boys’ game was fast and entertaining despite the wet weather, as the players were committed to having fun and running with the ball. A total of seven tries were scored. The feeling around the pitch was very enjoyable. Thanks to Duncan and Daniel for their very capable assistance.

Friday, June 11
Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association
Provincial Rugby Championships
Sherring Park, Lethbridge
The territorial championships took place on four pitches, with 32 games played on Friday. It was a busy day at a great venue, and we referees were given the use of a new RV as our tournament headquarters. I refereed three games (two boys’ matches and one girls match) and served as assistant referee for two others. My last match of the day featured the local girls’ high school team. This match was played in front of a large crowd that saw their team win and book an appearance in the finals the next day. Credit to Don Whidden, who organized the referees and assignments very well.

The refereeing crew:

Match Official Manager: Don Whidden (Edmonton)

Dave Crisp (Edmonton)
Paul Howe (Medicine Hat)
Dave Hunter (Edmonton)
Rob Kossuth (Lethbridge)
Jason Kwasny (Lethbridge)
Joe Leisek (Northern California)
Terry Laniuk (Edmonton)
Mike Laporte (Edmonton)
Dave Robinson (Calgary)
Drew Sagar (Delta, B.C.)
Craig Whitehead (Lethbridge)

Assistant Referees:
Al Barton (Medicine Hat)
Shawn Johnsrude (Lethbridge)
Rory McKeown (Lethbridge)
Kyle Snee (Raymond)

Saturday, June 12
Calgary Rugby Union Park, Calgary
DRUIDS (Edmonton) 34 – Saints (Calgary) 19 Referee: Joe Leisek
Assistant Referees: Dave Stocker, Eric Willis
The opening score was a try by the Druids which was handed to them by a blind, behind the back pass when clearly the support was not in place. This was at 6 minutes and was converted. At eighteen minute, a penalty kick was awarded to the Druids. Dissention moved the ball ten meters closer and therefore more kickable, which it was. Twenty minutes into the half a penalty kick to the Druids resulted in a lineout five meters from the Saints goal line which was won by the Druids and driven over for a try. It was converted. At halftime the score was Druids 22 – Saints nil.

At the forty-four minute mark the Druids outflanked the Saints in the backs following a line-out. The Saints, who had played reasonably in attack, finally scored following a thrust down the left side, which was stopped just short of the line, but a pick and go, by Mike Andrews scored a try on 48 minutes. At fifty three minutes Mozac Sampson burst through from halfway to score under the posts. Christian Wulff converted. At this point the Saints were down to thirteen men at a result of a yellow card issued to Kolino Waqa, the reason for which remains unclear. Soon after the Druids were over the line again but failed to ground the ball to the referee’s satisfaction; however they did score a try at sixty-six minutes. This was not converted. Almost on time, Josh Kelly went in for a try, converted by Christian Wulff.

(Note: Report excerpted from the Saints website.)

Attached is my Nations Cup week 1 report for the NCRRS newsletter.
By Aruna Ranaweera

Bucharest, Romania

Week 1


After a 17-hour trip from San Francisco to Bucharest (via Frankfurt), I was welcomed at the airport by Emil Pirtoc (President of Romanian rugby referees) who shuttled two other arriving match officials and me to the Ramada Plaza, a comfortable hotel with chic decor. Outside, the Romanian summer was in full force with daytime highs in the 90-100F range.

I will be here from June 9-21 as one of four referees at the iRB Nations Cup, an annual tournament held in Europe for Tier 2 rugby nations and Tier-1 nation ‘A’ sides. This year’s tournament consists of three rounds in which six teams play three matches each with no knockout stage. Defending champions Scotland A are joined by Argentina Jaguars, Italy A, Romania, Georgia, and Namibia.

I soon met the other iRB match officials who are in-town for this year’s Nations Cup: referee manager Dave McHugh (Ireland); referees Marius Jonker (South Africa), Neil “Patty” Paterson (Scotland), and Bryan Arciero (Canada); and assistant referees James Jones (Wales) and Andrew MacPherson (Scotland). I know Bryan from iRB TIP4 in Stellenbosch last year and I have worked with both Patty and James at the iRB San Diego sevens in previous years. This is quite an accomplished group: Marius is of course an iRB elite panel and top Super 14 referee who has refereed over 30 international matches, Dave is a former iRB elite panel referee, and Patty, James, and Andy are international referees who work full-time in the Magners league.

There are some connections with NCRRS: Dave spent time officiating in the Bay Area in the mid-2000’s and remembers Ed Todd. He is also in touch with Tony Redmond (Ireland), another NCRRS alumnus who is now an iRB TMO. Bryan of course has refereed several times in NorCal on exchange from Alberta.

Dave announced the appointments for the first round of matches on Friday: I am to referee the opening match between the host nation Romania and Namibia. This is very exciting: my first full international! Namibia is ranked #22 in the world and have already qualified for RWC 2011, while Romania is ranked #18 in the world and are in the process of qualifying for RWC 2011. (Note: USA is currently #16.)

I didn’t have much time to adjust to the 10-hour time difference as we were whisked away to an elegant open-air restaurant where Emil treated us to a hearty dinner of pasta and wine. We were also joined by Horatiu Barguanas, one of the top referees in Romania who also happened to be my roommate in Stellenbosch last year. In fact, the Nations Cup has turned into a mini-reunion for some of the participants of TIP4 in Stellenbosch: in addition to Bryan and Horatiu, the head coach of Namibia (John Diergaardt), the forwards coach of Romania (former All-Black Steve McDowell), the forwards coach of Georgia (Ilia Maisuradze), and the technical advisor to Georgia/Namibia (former Scotland coach Richie Dixon) are all familiar faces from TIP4.

Horatio took the match officials to downtown Bucharest for a quick drink, where a large number of locals were seen hanging out even on a Wednesday night.

I slept through my jet-lag, but woke up in time for the afternoon match officials photo (attached), which was taken in front of the Arc de Triomphe near the main Rugby Stadium, conveniently located just 5 minutes from the hotel. We were joined by the Romanian match officials Gabriel Seitan, Vlad Iordachescu, and Danut Frasineanu. Some of the referees did a brief workout and we then played 4-on-4 soccer at the practice field, but soon retired back to the hotel to escape the relentless sun.

In the afternoon, all match officials walked to the hotel next door for Dave’s presentation about refereeing policies and technical details for the tournament. We were also each provided a DVD illustrating the decisions made at the iRB Tier 1 coaches/referee managers meeting in May which are now in effect. It was particularly valuable to hear the senior referee Marius Jonker’s insights about refereeing techniques and approach.

Our Romanian hosts took us to dinner at a swanky, open-air restaurant in downtown Bucharest.

FRIDAY June 11, 2010

Match day. 95F degrees and sunny. Kickoff at 3pm. I did my best to stay hydrated and arrived at the stadium 90 minutes before kickoff where a bevy of Romanian officials greeted us and made sure we were looked after. James livened up the referee locker room with his boombox/ipod (and singing) and the Romanians provided beverages, food, and communication equipment. I greeted my coaching friends from Stellenbosch who were to be on opposite sides of my match, Steve McDowell (Romania) and Johan Diergaardt (Namibia), and I felt well-prepared for the match with assistant referees James Jones and Andy MacPherson in support. A large crowd was on hand, probably 2000-3000.

Round 1 Match results:
3pm: Namibia 21, Romania 17; Referee: Aruna Ranaweera (USA)
5pm: Italy A 22, Argentina Jaguars 20; Referee: Bryan Arciero (Canada)
7pm: Georgia 22, Scotland A 21; Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

All three matches went down to the wire and are considered upsets. Media reports:

Overall, I was happy with my first full international match. Naturally, there are areas that can be improved, but I felt good about my performance and really enjoyed the experience. Dave game me some quick pointers after the match and also a copy of the match DVD, which we will review in more detail on a later date. My Romanian friends were disappointed that they lost the match, but were gracious in defeat. (Namibia led 16-10 late in the 2nd half before Romania drove in a maul and kicked a difficult conversion to lead 16-17 with under 2 minutes left, which set-off wild celebrations in the stands. Off the ensuing restart, Namibia stunned everyone by recovering a perfectly timed restart kick which they flung out wide to their wing who ran around 3 defenders to touch down 21-17 with seconds remaining. Romania actually managed to regain possession off the final restart, but could not sustain their final desperate drive.)

After getting cleaned up at the hotel, the match officials had dinner at yet another swanky restaurant and were later taken out by our Romanian colleagues. The group had a great time celebrating an exciting first round of rugby in Bucharest.


Although we were exhausted from the previous day’s rugby and celebrations, we dragged ourselves out of bed to the “Dubliner”, an Irish pub in downtown Bucharest, where we spent the afternoon playing darts and watching rugby on Sky Sports: New Zealand vs Ireland, Australia vs England, and South Africa vs France. It was great watching the rugby, but what made it even more enjoyable was listening and discussing the matches with the other iRB referees who were full of (educated) opinions and funny anecdotes. Although we weren’t able to watch Scotland vs Argentina, both Andy and Patty were overjoyed when Scotland emerged as the weekend’s northern hemisphere victor.

After a few hours of sleep at the hotel, the match officials went to the downtown Radisson for an excellent poolside dinner. Later that night, at the Hard Rock café, all six match officials cheered for the USA in its 1-1 draw with England at the Soccer World Cup on TV.

SUNDAY June 13

Emil drove all of us to the Romanian Olympic Training Center just outside of Bucharest for a day of relaxation in the sun. On the way, Dave announced the referee appointments for the second round of matches on Tuesday: I will be the reserve referee for all three matches.

After playing some 3-on-3 touch rugby on the ultra-hot synthetic turf, we retired to the pool which was full of vacationers. Lunch hit the spot and we ended the afternoon lounging by the pool and poking fun at various things. We then went back to the Dubliner to watch the England vs Australia U20 World Championship match on Sky Sports over dinner and ended the night back at the Hard Rock café for dessert where wagers were made about Germany’s victory over Australia in the Soccer World Cup.

MONDAY June 14, 2010

We spent the morning exchanging more stories and anecdotes about the world of rugby, but later visited former Romanian President Nicolai Ceausescu’s palace, which is advertised as the 2nd largest building in the world after the Pentagon. After some shopping in a downtown Bucharest mall, we did separate workouts and were taken to dinner by Emil. Overall, I have to say central Bucharest looks like Paris, but with some sections not completed. It’s a very clean city.

More later!


Link courtesy of Mike Gadoua:


JC van Staden experiences synchronicity:

“I have an announcement, that the Pelican Family got extended Saturday morning, 8:23am, (half way in the Super14 final first half) Amika Hillet van Staden was born, 6lb 13oz.”

Key Scrum
Paul Bretz referees the national D2 championship between the Tampa Bay Krewe (stripes) and Doylestown at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo, on June 6.

Paul enjoyed this match so much that he took it into overtime.


For the Senate
Pelicus Scriptoris